What a splendid day today. Warm in the sunshine, and very little wind. As we cruised along above the Dane valley, we were delighted by the smell of blossom, the sight of butterflies flitting through the trees, and a soundtrack of cheeps and chirps, whistles and warbles from the branches above.
But I‘m getting ahead of myself. On Saturday, after visiting Kings Lock Chandlery, we dropped down the four narrow locks through Middlewich.
The first was Kings Lock, sandwiched between the Kings Lock pub on one side and the Kings Lock chippy on the other.
Kings Lock, lock and pub.
I can’t comment on the pub, but the chippy was up to it’s normal, excellent standard.
We topped off the water tank just below the lock, entertained by a long hire boat trying to make the turn from the Wardle Branch towards Kings Lock. It’s a tight turn, and he didn’t start the manoeuvre soon enough, so the brisk wind soon had him pinned to the bank opposite the junction.
Another boat turning into the junction didn’t help, pushing him back over when he’d just got clear…
There was nothing we could do from where we were, and eventually he got enough distance from the bank to complete the turn.
It was busy at the hire bases as we passed through, it being a Saturday and a change-over day.
Past Middlewich Narrowboats.
Since the recent buy-out the boats are in a different livery and look a lot smarter.
The remaining three locks are closely spaced, dropping the canal over 32’.
There was plenty of water coming down the locks, a bit too much for the pound between Locks 72 and 73.
Dropping down the Middlewich Locks
The other hire base, Andersen Boats below the locks.
We pulled in near the small park before Big Lock. Mags took a picture of me tying up with Meg supervising…
It’s handy here for shopping in the town centre, and Meg had an appointment with the vet, just 10 minutes walk away, this morning. There’s no problem, I just wanted her to have a look at Megs arthritis, and give me another prescription for Metacam. She’s certainly doing well on the stuff, and I think the warm weather is helping. She wants to play ball for the first time in a month, so I’ve indulged her, but only for a short session at a time.
I had a walk around the Maker’s Market up in town, local artisans selling food and glassware, pottery and fabrics.
There was also a group of Morris Dancers, jigging about and threatening each other with sticks…
I came back with some cheese and onion pie for tea, pork pie for me and fudge for Mags.
One of the items I’d bought at the chandlery was a new domestic water pump. I’d mentioned that ours had become noisy and slow, now with a new Jabsco unit fitted we’re back to normal. I got that done on Sunday morning, before we had a visit from Pete and Dawn, out walking Lucy and Maddie.
Pete and Dawn, NB White Atlas
So, back to today. After Meg’s vet visit I walked back towards the top of town, where there’s a foam supplier. Our saloon chairs are getting a bit hard in the seat after getting on for 8 years of bums, so I got a couple of pieces of 30mm thick foam to bolster the seat padding. It’ll make them last a little longer…
Then it was a visit to Tesco for groceries before we were ready to go.
I’d got chatting to our stern-to-stern neighbours a couple of times, they’re stuck at then moment with engine trouble, it appears that some sort of blanking plate has fallen off the side of the crankcase, dropping all the oil into the bilge. Not good. All being well the engineer should fix it tomorrow, though. Hope everything works out OK, John and Judith. Good talking to you.
There was a rush of boats up and down the canal through the morning, but by noon and our departure things had quietened down. We motored around the corner to Big Lock, and left Mags on the lock landing while I filled the lock. As Mag went in I checked if anyone else was coming to share the broad lock with, but couldn’t see anyone. I’d just closed up and lifted a bottom paddle when a boat I’d missed appeared, so I put the six inches I’d let out back in and they joined us.
Sharing Big Lock
This lock was built to broad-beam standard to allow salt barges to trade between Middlewich and Anderton and Barnton Wharfs. The original aqueduct over the River Dane just outside of the town was also wide, but was damaged during flooding and replaced by a narrow steel structure.
The “new” Croxton Aqueduct
Shortly the first of the flashes, Croxton, is passed. These are shallow depressions caused by subsidence from brine pumping, now filled with water.
The design of the bridges along this stretch allows for the subsidence. A flat deck on brick abutments is far easier to raise than the more traditional brick arch when the ground starts to sink.
Cruising through the trees above the Dane
South flash was our destination for today.
It looks very inviting, but many boats have run aground venturing to far from the established channel.
A visitor looking for anything edible
Another job was the assembly of a new short shaft, or boathook. I broke the last one recovering a floating table near Kidsgrove. I’d bought the shaft and brass hook the other day, now it was a matter of fitting them together.
The shaft shaped to fit…
…and the hook fitted.
Not sure whether to varnish or paint the shaft.
We’ll stay put tomorrow, a few more jobs on the agenda.
Locks 5, miles 5